THE intensive care Unit (ICU) at Zimbabwe’s largest referral hospital, Parirenyatwa, has been shut down amid reports the authorities have failed to repair broken down equipment including 15 ventilation systems which broke down last month, as standards at the institution continue to nosedive.
Sources at the hospital told the Zimbabwe Independent the emergency resuscitation equipment and other vital machinery had broken down and consequently life-saving surgical operations, which require patients to be admitted in the ICU after a procedure, had been stopped.
The hospital’s theatre is only attending to patients who require admission in the general wards after undergoing operations.
“Patients who require life-saving surgical operations are being referred to Harare Central Hospital because the ICU has not been operational for some time,” said a source at the institution.
The source also said the hospital authorities have failed to raise money to repair the ventilation system which broke down early last month.
Last month, Parirenyatwa’s chief executive officer Thomas Zigora told the parliamentary portfolio committee on health that water was a major problem at the institution, saying the hospital regularly went without drinking water for days necessitating a standby 600 000-litre reservoir.
Parirenyatwa has five boreholes, but only three have drinking water.
Last month the hospital’s infection control officer Salome Bhiri said health workers were ferrying water using buckets from borehole tanks and taps dotted around the institution to a majority of the wards whose taps are dysfunctional.
She said the hospital was no longer different from rural district hospitals, a situation compromising effective and efficient service delivery.
The water crisis has increased the workload of nurses who have to bear the dual burden of fetching water as well as attending to patients.
“We are facing serious problems because the tap water hardly reaches the patients’ wards. In some wards, only one tap is functional and you find that two wards may be sharing a single tap, and this is not healthy considering that this is one of the country’s biggest referral centres,” said Bhiri.
The decay at Parirenyatwa is microcosmic of government’s failure to provide decent social services.
Most hospitals are using obsolete medical machinery, with Harare Central Hospital’s X-rays and ultrasound scan machines, for instance, reportedly down most of the time due to persistent water shortages at the hospital.
Just over a decade ago Zimbabwe’s public health system was ranked among the best in sub-Saharan Africa, but standards have been deteriorating due to the durable economic hardships the country is facing.
Parirenyatwa public relations manager Jane Dadzi had not responded to e-mailed questions at the time of going to press although she had requested written questions.